Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Senior Chief Tripp - Going Ashore!

Saturday evening I had the pleasure of attending BMCS Tripp's retirement ceremony. The ceremony was held on the pier next to USS Constitution. I had heard about this through the Navy grapevine and emailed the "Senior Boats" and asked to be invited.

My goddaughter Deb (my ace shutterbug) and I headed over to the Charlestown Navy Yard on a perfect May evening. We left her graduation party to do it and I appreciate that Deb. They were expecting around 75 people. Chairs were set up so that Old Ironsides was the backdrop to the platform for the speakers. There was a small Navy ensemble playing as we arrived.

Deb and I chose our seats and watched the last minute preparations. We observed a young blond woman pulling everything together. Later we learned that was the Senior Chief's wife. She is also in the Navy. Both Deb and I were impressed with how calmly she was pulling this together.

Technical difficulties with the sound system pushed us back to 1830, but it was very pleasant sitting there in the Navy Yard. Deb and I chatted up our seatmates. Deb was sitting next to a Midshipman from the Naval Academy. Very interesting conversation. She was scheduled to take part in the ceremony and her father was one of the speakers as well. A friend of CDR Bullard's and his wife were seated in front of us. So it actually turned out that I knew someone there! LOL

It started off with the arrival of the official party - LCDR Chadwick, CAPT Broz (father of the Midn) and BMCS Tripp. All resplendent in summer whites. If you read this blog, you know how I feel about summer whites, lol. They passed through the side boys and climbed onto the speaker's platform.

After the invocation, we all faced the flag flying from the stern of the oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy for the National Anthem. You can not help but feel the history. You can not help but pause for a moment and think of all those who have stood before you in that very position.

The first speaker was BMCS Tripp's commanding officer LCDR Chadwick. He spoke without notes and without the mic. What a funny guy. Clearly, he thought highly of the Senior Chief and his wife as well. He also tossed out the requisite barbs at Boatswains Mates. You see, while there is rivalry between all of the Navy and the other branches of the military, there is also rivalry within the Navy. My own father was a QM2 and he zings SB who was a Bosun's Mate before he became on officer.

Next up was CAPT Broz who again walked the line between honoring and roasting the man of the hour. As for the roasting, let me just say, there are some things that once they are seen.....can not be unseen!

Finally it was time for the man himself to get up and speak. And he did a great job. He showed himself to be a thoughtful husband, son and father and clearly a Sailor who loved the Navy. Not to mention a very good sport!

Tom of NavyCS told me to pay special attention to the Flag Passing Ceremony. He was right, it was something to see. I don't know if it's the norm, but the Tripp boys we part of it and did a fine job with it. Their parents should be very proud of them.

The ceremony concluded with BMCS Tripp asking permission to go ashore and once it's granted he exits through other Chiefs forming the side boys. It must be a bittersweet moment. Leaving the service after 25 years, and clearly he loved his time in the Navy. But knowing you gave your best and that's why these people have showed up in your honor.

After he walked through the side boys, Senior Chief Tripp walked a little further than was expected and there was some laughter that he was going to keep on going. But I wonder if that wasn't his way of taking a moment to absorb it all before turning around to face us as BMCS Tripp, USN (ret) for the first time.

It was a great time and I enjoyed the people I met. But none more-so than CAPT Broz's wife Jane. It's funny how some people just immediately strike you and you can't explain it. But I just really liked Jane Broz. We only spoke briefly. I spoke more to her daughter about Annapolis and Jane spoke more to Debbie, but she really made an impression. I didn't get to meet CAPT Broz, but he is one lucky guy.

Afterwards Deb and I went up to Traci Tripp and I introduced myself and thanked her for letting us attend. She was very gracious and invited us to attend to party at the Coast Guard station. Unfortunately, I explained we had ducked out of Debbie's party and had to get back. But I wish I had, there were several people I wouldn't have minded chatting up. I tried to get introduced to CAPT Martin USCG, but he disappeared quickly.

BMCS Tripp, I wish you every good thing in this next chapter of your life. I am confident of your future success after meeting your wife Traci who pulled together this event for you while being a mother to your five children and serving her country in the US Navy.
There will be pics, as soon as I figure out how to open the file Deb sent me.

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